The following article provides instructions on how to unclog the auger on a pellet grill.
This is an important part of keeping your pellet grill functioning properly and ensuring that your food is cooked evenly.
The process is not difficult, but it does require a little bit of effort and attention.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be able to unclog the auger and get back to smoking your meats in no time!
What Is an Auger?
The auger is one of the most important parts of a pellet grill. It is responsible for moving the pellets from the hopper to the firebox, where they are then lit to produce smoke and heat.
If the auger becomes clogged, it can prevent the grill from functioning properly and will cause food to cook unevenly — if at all.
The good news is that unclogging the auger isn’t too difficult, and doesn’t require an expert to complete.
Just follow these steps and you’ll be able to get your grill back up and running in no time!
What Can Cause the Auger to Clog?
There are many things that can cause an auger to clog. Some of the most common include cooking oil or grease spilling down into the area where the auger is located.
These, along with food residue, can build up inside over time and eventually keep it from functioning properly.
Dust and dirt may also get caught inside during storage, or if left outside in the elements, causing the same problem.
But the most common cause of a clogged auger is actually wood pellets, ironically enough.
In case you didn’t know, wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust, and when exposed to moisture, they crumble right back into sawdust.
If water gets into your hopper, your pellets might appear to be just fine, but once the auger starts trying to move them, it’s a completely different story.
Pellets fall apart as the auger attempts to move them, and when this happens, it often also means that there’s water in the burn pot.
So your auger continues to move pellets in an attempt to create a fire (which isn’t coming because it’s wet).
These pellets simply build up inside, creating a nice crumbly mess for you to clean up. Fortunately, unclogging the auger in your pellet grill isn’t too difficult.
How to Unclog the Auger on a Pellet Grill
The first step is to find where your auger is located. If you’re not familiar with how the parts are arranged on your particular model, refer to the instruction manual that came with it.
Typically, the auger runs from the hopper to the burn pot, underneath the heat shield and grease tray.
Next, you’ll need to remove the auger. This can only be done by disassembling parts of your pellet grill. To get to the auger on most models, you will likely need to remove the pellet hopper.
This can be done using either a Phillips or flathead screwdriver, an Allen key, or bolt. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn which one.
To remove the hopper, you may need to remove some external attachments such as heat shields guards — again, refer to your owner’s manual.
It’s important to note that the electronic components of your pellet grill are likely going to be obstructing your access to the auger screw, which should be carefully moved aside — not removed, unless you are certain that you can reassemble them properly.
Once you’ve gotten down to the electronics, all you have to do is detach the auger from the motor, and move them out of the way.
The auger screw is typically attached at a single point, so make sure to detach it from there first.
Then you can take a vice grip or a pipe wrench and remove the auger screw by turning clockwise, or with the direction of the screw.
Since it’s clogged, you will likely have to exert extra force to get it to budge, but it will come free.
Once your auger screw is removed, use a flashlight to look inside and check for any blockages.
Usually they occur at the entrance of the feed tube where the pellets are loaded into the hopper, and at the other end by the burn pot.
If there’s anything in there, simply remove it with a pair of tongs or pliers, being careful not to push anything further back down into the pellet tube.
You might need a chisel to knock extra dry spots loose in the tube itself.
After you’ve cleared out all obstructions, you should use a long-handled wire brush to clear out any remaining bits of debris in the auger’s hole, then use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment to suck up anything else you can’t reach.
How to Clean the Auger on a Pellet Grill
How to clean an auger on a pellet grill is much simpler. You can use some sandpaper and a wire brush to do so. Clean until it’s smooth and the auger screw can move in and out of the hole with ease.
At this point, you can put your auger screw back in place and reattach it to the motor.
Then attach other components back where they belong, ensuring that you do not tighten them too much while doing so. Finally replace your grill cover if need be.
Other Pellet Grill Maintenance Tips
If you want to keep your pellet grill in top condition, there are a few other maintenance tips you should follow.
The first is to clean the grease tray and heat shield on a regular basis. This can be done with a sponge, some hot water, and a degreaser.
The next step is to keep your pellet grill covered and stored in a dry location to prevent any water from affecting the electronic components.
Finally, make sure to vacuum out the inside of your grill regularly, especially if it’s been used often. This will help keep everything clean and functioning properly.
Unclogging and cleaning the auger on a pellet grill is actually quite simple. Following the steps above and keeping it clean will ensure your pellet grill stays in tip-top shape.